## What You Need To Pass This Class

It’s near the end of the (US) college fall semester. So it’s a good time to point out again that it is possible to work out exactly what you need on the final exam to get whatever grade you want in the course. What it’s not possible to do is study just exactly enough to get that grade, mind you. I suppose it can give you some idea where a good study session can most make a difference, but really, what you need is to study routinely and to get enough sleep.

But if you are just trying to get a rough idea of what you need, here’s a table with common cases, of final exam weight and to-date averages. If that chart misses what your particular case needs (and, remember, there is no point to looking to great precision) here’s the formula to work out specifically your problem.

And, as long as I have this open, let me share an episode of The Vic and SadeCast, about the renowned and strange 15-minute old-time-radio serial comedy Vic and Sade. Most episodes of the serial were two or three people talking past one another. The show may not be to your tastes, but if it is, it’s very much to your taste. This episode of the podcast features an October 1941 show aptly titled It’s Algebra, Uncle Fletcher.

## What Does It Take To Get A C This Class?

I’m posting this for several sordid reasons. First is that I want to test whether WordPress has changed something in how pingbacks — a post linking to another post — get handled. Second is I want to get my post count for the month up from its pitifully low number. I’m at something like negative four posts for all April. Third is that oh, yes, it is about that time of the semester when a kind of student is trying to study just hard enough to get a 79.6 percent in their classwork. So they want to study up to an 86.2 on the final and not waste their efforts studying up to an 86.5.

So here’s a couple tables I set up years ago. They show, for some common breakdowns of how much the final exam is worth, and what your class average is before going into the finals, what you’d need to get a 60, 65, 70, 80, or 90.

If your case isn’t handled in the above examples, here’s an essay with the complete formula needed to handle any circumstance, including extra credit.

But seriously you can’t study yourself up to “just” enough to get your target grade for the course. Study to understand the subject and take the grade as it is.

## Can I Still Get A B In This Class?

I’ve been informed by reliable sources that it’s near the end of the college semester for most United States colleges and universities. So let me bring back some of my very minor perennials. What Do I Need To Pass This Class? is my old and slightly overwritten description of how to get a particular course grade. It allows for any weightings of course work and final exam plus any extra credit that might be hanging around.

What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class? meanwhile is less flexible but maybe more useful at a glance. It’s simply tables of some common grade weightings and class averages, and shows what final exam score (if any) makes possible an A, B, C, D, or F. This is on the assumption that a 90 or above is an A, an 80 or above is a B, 70 or above is C, and 60 or above is a D.

And as ever the real answer is more fundamental. You should get more sleep. You should study a fair bit every day rather than cram at the end of the term. If you’re able, you should take notes by hand rather than by computer. You should talk with the instructor the moment you start feeling lost, rather than when you feel hopelessly lost. You should use the tutoring services the school offers. If you have special needs for exams or other class work, you should meet with the school’s office for that sort of thing. Your instructors can make accommodations but they need to know what you need, and the sooner the better. In short, don’t try to do it all in the final. But yeah, I know, you’re wondering too.

## What You Need To Pass This Class. Also: It’s Algebra, Uncle Fletcher

The end of the (US) semester snuck up on me but, in my defense, I’m not teaching this semester. If you know someone who needs me to teach, please leave me a note. But as a service for people who are just trying to figure out exactly how much studying they need to do for their finals, knock it off. You’re not playing a video game. It’s not like you can figure out how much effort it takes to get an 83.5 on the final and then put the rest of your energy into your major’s classes.

But it’s a question people ask, and keep asking, so here’s my answers. This essay describes exactly how to figure out what you need, given whatever grade you have and whatever extra credit you have and whatever the weighting of the final exam is and all that. That might be more mechanism than you need. If you’re content with an approximate answer, here’s some tables for common finals weightings, and a selection of pre-final grades.

For those not interested in grade-grubbing, here’s some old-time radio. Vic and Sade was a longrunning 15-minute morning radio program written with exquisite care by Paul Rhymer. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. But if it is yours, it’s going to be really yours: a tiny cast of people talking not quite past one another while respecting the classic Greek unities. Part of the Overnightscape Underground is the Vic and Sadecast, which curates episodes of the show, particularly trying to explain the context of things gone by since 1940. This episode, from October 1941, is aptly titled “It’s Algebra, Uncle Fletcher”. Neither Vic nor Sade are in the episode, but their son Rush and Uncle Fletcher are. And they try to work through high school algebra problems. I’m tickled to hear Uncle Fletcher explaining mathematics homework. I hope you are too.

## What Do I Need To Get A B This Semester? (May 2017 Edition)

That said, everyone wants numbers. So here’s my posts. This is the original, about how to calculate exactly the score you need on your final to get whatever course grade you want. It allows for different sorts of weighting and extra credit and all that. If you don’t want to worry about extra credit here are some tables for common final-exam weightings with which you can approximate your needed score.

Also: review the syllabus. Read and understand any study guides you have. Review the in-course exams and homework assignments. Eat regularly and sleep as fully as you can the week or so before the exam; you do not have any problems that sleep deprivation will make better.

(Yes, this post is early. The schools I’m loosely affiliated with started early this term.)

## What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2016 Edition)

Chatting with friends made me aware some schools have already started finals. So I’m sorry to be late with this. But for those who need it here’s my ancient post on how to calculate the minimum score you need on the final to get the grade you want in the class. And for those who see my old prose style and recoil in horror I’m sorry. I was less experienced back then. Don’t look smug; you were too. But here’s a set of tables for common grade distributions, so you don’t have to do any calculations yourself. Just look up numbers instead.

With that information delivered, let me say once more: what you really need is to start preparing early, and consistently. Talk with your instructor about stuff you don’t understand, and stuff you think you understand, early on. Don’t give a line about the grade you need; that puts an inappropriate pressure on the instructor to grade you incorrectly. Study because it’s worth studying. Even if you don’t see why the subject is interesting, it is something that people smarter than you have spent a lot of time thinking about. It’s worth figuring out something of what they know that you don’t yet.

## What’s Needed To Pass This Class (Spring 2016 Edition)

I had thought we were barely entering Final Exam season. But I hear reports many (United States) colleges and universities have already got them started. And I see what people are searching for around my writing here. So let me help folks out here.

Here, under “What Do I Need To Pass This Class”, besides start worrying about grades sooner, is an explanation of how to calculate exactly what score one needs. It allows for the exam to have any weighting possible, and for extra credit points to be considered, to get any desired score. And then since not everyone looking for their grade is actually a mathematics student interested in following equations that, I believe, are well-explained, I put together some tables with the results for some common final exam weightings and target scores. The tables include what scores are needed for finals that are one-fifth, one-quarter, one-third, and two-fifths the total course grade.

Good luck. Read the syllabus and any test preparation sheets the instructor gives. Get a full night’s sleep before and eat well the day of the exam. Don’t pester with e-mails asking for extra credit. Only bother your professor with requests to correct errors of fact, which would be recorded grades or an error in calculation. Have your returned assignment to show, and understand how weighted grades work, before you do.

## Exam Grades And Ramsey Theory

While I don’t have any topics overwhelming my search-engine profile, I do see the rise in people looking up what they need to pass their class, or to get a desired minimum grade. The sorry answer is, they needed to start work sooner. But here’s the formula for working it out, for whatever your course average to date is, whatever score you want, whatever extra credit is available, all that. And here’s tables for some of the common cases, if you’re afraid of the formulas.

And for pleasantly recreational mathematics … I forget which mathematics twitter account that I follow posted the above. But it links to “Ramsey Theory in the Dining Room”. I’d mentioned the field last month because its question about organizing dinner-party guests somehow got a Dear Abby correspondent all angry in the late 70s.

Brian Hayes there ran across an application of the theory that gets away from dinner-party invites and into table place settings. It’s worth a read, particularly for the challenge posed. Hayes thought, briefly, he had solved a question in Ramsey Theory, one that’s easy to understand — you’ll understand the question — but that everyone else in the field has found too hard to answer. He doubted his result, but didn’t think until the next day of why he was wrong. Can you spot where he went wrong? (It’s a subtle flaw in the reasoning, but one an eight-year-old would understand, so I recommend trying to think like one.)

## What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition)

I don’t mean to repeat myself too much, but it is finals season for United States colleges on a semesterly schedule so, here. Good luck, people who’re minutes away from their final exams.

It’s finals season, at least for colleges that run on a semesterly schedule, and a couple of my posts are turning up in search query results again. So I thought it worth drawing a little more attention to them and hopefully getting people what they need sooner.

The answer: you need to study a steady but not excessive bit every night from now to before the exam; you need to get a full night of sleep before the exam; and you really needed to pay attention in class and do the fiddly little assignments all semester, so, sorry it’s too late for that. Also you need to not pointlessly antagonize your professor; even if you don’t like this class, you could have taken others to meet your academic requirement, so don’t act like you were dragged into Topics in Civilization: Death against your will even if it does satisfy three

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## 20,000: My Math Blog’s Statistics

I reached my 20,000th view around here sometime on the final day of 2014, which is an appealingly tidy coincidence. I’m glad for it. It also gives me a starting point to review the blog’s statistics, as gathered by WordPress, which is trying to move us to a new and perfectly awful statistics page that shows less information more inconveniently.

The total number of page views grew from 625 in October to 674 in November all the way to 831 in December 2014, which just ties my record number of viewers from back in January 2013. The number of unique visitors grew from October’s 323 to November’s 366 up to 424 total, which comes in second-place to January 2013’s 473. I don’t know what I was doing in January 2013 that I’m only gradually getting back up to these days. The number of views per visitor went from 1.93, to 1.84, back up to 1.96, which is probably just a meaningless fluctuation. January 2013 had 1.76.

My most popular articles — with 25 views or more each — were Reading The Comics posts, mostly, with the exceptions being two things almost designed to be clickbait, although I mean them sincerely:

1. Reading the Comics, December 14, 2014: Pictures Gone Again? Edition, in which I work out one of the calculus-y expressions and find it isn’t all that interesting.
2. Reading the Comics, December 5, 2014: Good Questions Edition, in which I figured out a Dark Side Of The Horse comic was using a page of symbols from orbital perturbation problems.
3. Reading the Comics, December 27, 2014: Last of the Year Edition?, which it wasn’t, and which let me talk about how Sally Brown is going to discover rational numbers if Charlie Brown doesn’t over-instruct her.
4. Reading The Comics, December 22, 2015: National Mathematics Day Edition, which celebrated Srinivasa Ramanujan’s birth by showing a formula that Leonhard Euler discovered, but Euler’s formula is much more comic-strip-readable than any of Ramanujan’s.
5. What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition), which gathered and reposted for general accessibility the formula and the charts so people can figure out what the subject line says. Also what you need to get a B, or A, or any other desired grade. (Mostly, you needed to start caring about your grade earlier.)
6. How Many Trapezoids I Can Draw, my life’s crowning achievement. (Six. If you find a seventh please let me know and I’ll do a follow-up post.)

The country sending me the most readers was, as ever, Bangladesh with 535 viewers. Well, two viewers, but it’s boring just listing the United States up front every time. The United Kingdom (37) and Canada (33) came up next, then Argentina (17), which surprises me every month by having a healthy number of readers there, Australia (12), Austria (11), and the Netherlands (10), proving that people in countries that don’t start with ‘A’ can still kind of like me too. The single-reader countries this month were the Czech Republic, Greece, Macedonia, Mexico, Romania, and South Africa. That’s far fewer than last month; of November’s 17 single-reader countries only Romania is a repeat.

Among search terms that brought people here were popeye comic computer king — I don’t know just how that’s going to end up either, folks, but I’m guessing “not that satisfyingly”, since Bud Sagendorf was fond of shaggy-dog non-endings to tales — and which reindeer was in arthur christmas (they were descendants of the “Original” canonical eight, though Grand-Santa forgets some of the names), daily press, “the dinette set” answer for december 11, 2014, and solution to the comic puzzle, “the dinette set”. in the daily press, december 12, 2014, and answer to the comic puzzle, “the dinette set”. in the daily press, december 12, 2014, which suggests maybe I should ditch the pop-math racket and just get into explaining The Dinette Set, which is admittedly kind of a complicated panel strip. There’s multiple riffs around the central joke in each panel, but if you don’t get the main joke then the riffs look like they’re part of the main joke, and they aren’t, so the whole thing becomes confusing. And the artist includes a “Find-It” bit in every panel, usually hiding something like a triangle or a star or something in the craggly details of the art and that can be hard to find. Mostly, though, the joke is: these people are genially and obliviously obnoxious people who you might love but you’d still find annoying. That’s it, nearly every panel. I hope that helps.

## What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition)

It’s finals season, at least for colleges that run on a semesterly schedule, and a couple of my posts are turning up in search query results again. So I thought it worth drawing a little more attention to them and hopefully getting people what they need sooner.

The answer: you need to study a steady but not excessive bit every night from now to before the exam; you need to get a full night of sleep before the exam; and you really needed to pay attention in class and do the fiddly little assignments all semester, so, sorry it’s too late for that. Also you need to not pointlessly antagonize your professor; even if you don’t like this class, you could have taken others to meet your academic requirement, so don’t act like you were dragged into Topics in Civilization: Death against your will even if it does satisfy three general-education requirements at the cost of being a 7:50 am section.

Anyway, that doesn’t help figuring out whether you can relax as soon as you get 82.3 percent of the final right or if you have to strain to get that 82.6. So let me point to those: What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2013 Edition) gives an expression for working out the score you need, and shows how to develop that formula, based on things like the pre-final grade, the weight given the exam, and extra credit (or demerits) that you’ve received, and is therefore good for absolutely any weighted-average based course grade you might have.

That also involves formulas, though, and I know that makes people nervous, so What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class? simplifies matters a bit by working out a couple common cases: for finals worth 40, 33, 30, 25, and 20 percent of the class, based on pre-final averages, what final exam grade do you need to get to at least a given level. Good luck, but you really shouldn’t be scrounging for points. Study because it’s fun to learn things and the grades will be good of their own accord.

## What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class?

And this post makes matters a little bit simpler, by showing charts of what minimum scores one needs on the final to get various minimum scores, for different final exam weightings. And, yes, if you’re going into a final exam with a high enough average, it’s conceivable that you could pass, or even get a better-than-passing, score with a zero on the final. Don’t do that. It makes your instructor sad. Just be less tense about the final instead.

After writing my bit about how to figure out what grade you need to pass your class, I thought some more and realized that while everything in it is true, it’s not necessarily helpful, because people get panicky at formulas. So I thought to make up some tables showing what you need, if you go in with a certain grade, to pass, or get a B, or an A, or what not, for different weightings of the final exam. That’s easy enough to do especially once I set up a Matlab (well, an Octave) script to build the tables for me.

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## What Do I Need To Pass This Class?

I haven’t gone in for reblogging my own posts, but, I realized I have two that are somewhat timely. That’s my post about how to calculate the minimum grade you need on the final exam to get a desired final score, and then a set of tables that work out the minimum scores for people who aren’t confident they’re going to get the formula worked out right. I hope people will be patient with repetitions of these postings. This is the post with the complete formula, and instructions how to work it out, so, it’s to be used by those who felt they knew what was going on in pre-algebra and regular algebra.

I admit a bit of difficulty in identifying with people who are very worried about their grades. I stopped worrying about my grades somewhere around fifth grade, when I missed a straight-A report card by one question on one spelling test and decided the stress wasn’t worth it for changing one B+ into an A-. But it’s a question instructors get, increasingly, as the final exam approaches, and students are almost never satisfied with the correct answers, especially when circumstances require a time machine. I suppose I understand the despair in that case.

Anyway, working out the minimum grade you need to pass — or what you need to get an A, or to get a B, or whatever you like — is an easy enough problem it’s surprising when students don’t work it out on their own. Maybe they don’t realize this is what they learn algebra for. But…

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## December 2013’s Statistics

There’s a hopeful trend in my readership statistics for December 2013 around these parts: according to WordPress, my number of readers grew from 308 in November to 352 and the number of unique visitors grew from 158 to 176. Even the number of views per visitor grew, from 1.95 to 2.00. None of these are records, but the fact of improvement is a good one.

I can’t figure exactly how to get the report on most popular articles for the exact month of December, and was too busy with other things to check the past-30-day report on New Year’s Eve, but at least the most popular articles for the 30 days ending today were:

The countries sending me the most readers were the United States, Canada, Denmark and Austria (tied, and hi again, Elke), and the United Kingdom. Sending me just one viewer each were a slew of nations: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Viet Nam. On that list last month were Jordan and Slovenia, so I’m also marginally interesting to a different group of people this time around.

This has all caused me to realize that I failed to promote my string of articles inspired by Arthur Christmas and getting to the recurrence theorem and the existential dread of the universe’s end during the Christmas season. Maybe next year, then.

## What Do I Need If The Final Is Worth 40 Percent?

I suspected that my little pair of articles about what scores you need on the final to pass a class (or get an A, or such) would prove useful, which is almost as good as being informative. I noticed in the search queries bringing people to my pages a question about what a person needed for a course where the final was 40 percent of the class score. I hadn’t put that in my original set of tables, and if the searcher followed my first article — about how to work out what you need for any weighting of the final exam — then she or he got what was needed. I just didn’t think of finals being quite that heavily weighted. But, what the heck, if people want to see the tables worth 40 percent, it’s easy enough to generate them, and I added that to the collection of scores-needed tables. Good luck next term.

## What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class?

After writing my bit about how to figure out what grade you need to pass your class, I thought some more and realized that while everything in it is true, it’s not necessarily helpful, because people get panicky at formulas. So I thought to make up some tables showing what you need, if you go in with a certain grade, to pass, or get a B, or an A, or what not, for different weightings of the final exam. That’s easy enough to do especially once I set up a Matlab (well, an Octave) script to build the tables for me.

## What Do I Need To Pass This Class?

I admit a bit of difficulty in identifying with people who are very worried about their grades. I stopped worrying about my grades somewhere around fifth grade, when I missed a straight-A report card by one question on one spelling test and decided the stress wasn’t worth it for changing one B+ into an A-. But it’s a question instructors get, increasingly, as the final exam approaches, and students are almost never satisfied with the correct answers, especially when circumstances require a time machine. I suppose I understand the despair in that case.

Anyway, working out the minimum grade you need to pass — or what you need to get an A, or to get a B, or whatever you like — is an easy enough problem it’s surprising when students don’t work it out on their own. Maybe they don’t realize this is what they learn algebra for. But here’s how to do it.